Mother's Day a loving day

My mother taught me how to read and write when I was 3 years old. She raised seven of us while my father worked two jobs. She gave me the foundation for what would be a career in journalism. I lost my mother nearly five years ago, but what she instilled in me endures. For those of you who have a mother, be thankful.
I know I am, even though she's gone.

My mother was a news junkie. She saved newspapers that carried banner headlines like Richard M. Nixon's forced resignation, in which he declared, "I am not a crook" and the assassination attempt on Gerald Ford by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, one of Charles Manson's disciples.

I still recall those afternoons racing home from school so I could watch the Watergate hearings with my mother.

I had her all to myself because my brothers and sisters had no clue what Watergate was about and to this day could care less.

My mother, though, never played favorites. I guess I was just the brainy one.

Years ago, she gave me a TV Guide just days after the 1963 that featured the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I still have it, along with the TV Guide that had a cover story on the untimely plane crash death of Kennedy's son.

My parents were very generous with us when they could afford to spend. When I was in elementary school, I got a Fort Apache play set.

For my eighth-grade graduation, I received a 10-speed bicycle.

In my senior year, they gave me money to take a class trip to New York City to visit the World Trade Center and Statue of Liberty.

Then I got to go on a second trip to Washington D.C. where I visited the White House and JFK's grave.

I brought my mother all kinds of brochures home and other items and she saved every one of them, including a soap sample from the hotel that my father gave me after she died Aug. 27, 2003, on his birthday after a sudden and brief illness that took her away from us at 62.

This was particularly hard on our father, but I told him I believed his birthday present was that she was finally at peace in Heaven and that one day we would join her.

Sometimes it was tough competing with elementary school boys who had all kinds of Match Box and Hot Wheels cars. I had something better, though, thanks to my mom.

Every week when the Shopper's Guide came in the mail, my mother and I would cut out cars from the automobile dealership ads.

Over several years, I had quite the collection of cars and would feature the best of them in my own Daytona 500 races. Those other kids sure loved my paper cars.

And because my mother always read to me, especially stories from the Bible, I got to be a pretty good speller. In fact, I won the third-grade spelling be over this snot-faced girl with red hair who spelled alphabet with an F. When she got it wrong, I spelled it correctly and was the most popular kid during recess. My mother was so proud.

I think my mother's proudest moment, though, is the day she saw me graduate from college. No one in the history of our family had ever done that.

And I know she was pleased when my son was born in 1993, the second boy among her five grandchildren.

My mother was proud of every academic and professional achievement I ever accomplished. I'm sure she'd be very proud of my establishing this on-line newspaper.

I will spend part of Mother's Day today with my girlfriend, Sera, and her mother, Maria, a widow. She is very nice.

She speaks very little English since coming here in 1994 from Puerto Rico. Since I speak some Spanish, I am teaching her English. She reminds me so much of my mother that I am beginning to love her, too.

My mother was fluent in Portuguese and would sing as native songs. So I appreciate cultural differences that my mother instilled in me so many years ago in my baby-boomer life. I will always love my mother.